Education crisis: What have we done? [Archives:2007/1067/Community]

July 12 2007

By: Mohammed Al-Seragi
[email protected]

Education matter started rising and increasing in many countries as well as the modern countries such as: Germany, France, and USA while this case has become a main concern in their election process for the political organizations. It has also become ranked in their top priorities where they set resolutions and solutions for any crisis that comes up associated with the Education step by step to solve it permanently. While in the developing countries, education problems pile up which makes it extremely hard to work out because of the heavy load. The governments in these countries (ex. our country) attempt to draw policies and plans, aiming to develop and improve the education.

Most of these plans are not applied and locked in cabinets (put aside in boxes). What is spent in Yemen for the education sector is approximately 30% of the country budget overall. The big piece goes to salaries to instructors and staff working in the department who exceed 300,000 in total. In Yemen, for example, there is a big need for a national conference and a participation that involves all the academic personalities, political parties, and the local community organizations to study, research the educational situation, and to come out with a general view to develop our education foundations.

The size and the type of the problem can't be explained in this article in details but I will bring up a small comparison between secondary school systems here and in the United States, where I passed the exam with a 95% percentage, without the usual terrified and anxious experience the normal tester here experiences when taking the annual exam.

The injustice of the high school diploma grades is another factor for the fear and anxiety the students go through annually nowadays. As a result of the cheating problem that our testing system is facing, a majority of students end up with final grades that don't belong to them or a made-up grade that equals the amount they paid (you get what you pay for). By observing the amount of articles that many local newspapers, with diverse interests, write about this problem, the reasons, and the disadvantages indicate how sensitive it is to our community especially in the last month before the finals. Knowing that this problem is widely and publicly spread in the rural parts of the country, there have never been any real attempts to stop, and cure this infection as well as to prevent it from happening.

I wish very much from the administrative leadership in the ministry of education who visit continuously the modern countries such as the United States to benefit from the experience of these nations and implement it in the local level in our country. This implementation could change gradually either in the governorates capitals level or in some selected schools. Knowing how successful these countries in education will encourage this new experience and system to us to improve the Yemeni institutions.

In this article, I will talk about the American school system from my personal viewpoint and from different angles such as:

– Building and equipments: It provides a good and comfortable environment for students. Cleanness and neatness of the building is a significant rule in all public schools. Each teacher has their own classroom where students go from a class to another each period. All classrooms are provided with necessary equipments that students might need such as: computers to print, internet as a source of information, writing utensils, books and a mini-library, and so on.

– Teachers: they come up with a personal syllabus and course outline for their students according to their department. They make their own rules and students are expected to follow them all.

– Core Curriculum: Students choose what to take in a degree plan that the student counseling department make for them. The choose whether to take art or science this semester or to have it later on. The more students take in the early high school years, the more chance to graduate a semester or a year earlier.

– Student activities: students are encouraged to do a certain amount of hours a week of service for the community. The students are to choose what to do with some regulations and planning from the school to be well organized. Any student can form his/her own student organization/club if it doesn't contradict with the school and state law.

– Grading system (evaluating the student): Final high school graduating grade is calculated through the four years of high school. Unlike in Yemen, the final exam at the end of school is 20% maximum or even less of the student's year GPA (total). If the student didn't do well in a year, it would not decrease his GPA that much. That way, students try to student and do well in all the years so they end up with a good final over all GPA.

– Exams: They are not something to lose sleep worrying about them by students. Teachers try to evaluate their students by other tools such as: projects, homework, attendance, class questions, and behavior. By having many test in each semester, one test doesn't count too much against the student.

– Alternatives for the high school diploma: The schooling system in the states provides another good alternative for students to succeed in their education. They have the choice whether to study for four years or to pass an exam that's called GED which includes: Mathematics, Science, and English.

In the president Ali Abdullah Saleh's election program, during his campaign for the presidential elections last year, it stated the following regarding the education issues:

1. Develop the general education quality in all the educational levels

2. The good care and support of the excellent students in their study

3. Establish an independent national center to evaluate the educational projects

4. Develop and improve the school curriculum